Introduction: Bamboo Floor Lamp

I needed a couple of lamps for my main room, and when I decided to build a floor lamp, bamboo seemed the obvious thing to make the pole out of, being light, strong and naturally hollow so I could run the cable up inside it. So I had been looking for somewhere to buy thick bamboo canes to make myself a floor lamp, but luckily I found that friends of mine had stacks of the stuff in their garage! It grows so quickly that anyone who has it in their garden probably chops down hundreds of feet of it every few months :)

Step 1: Base

My original plan was to build a wooden base then buy a standard light bulb socket and fit that at the top of the pole. I checked prices of the electrical parts I'd need - socket, cable, plug - and I realised that altogether they were more expensive than a little desk-lamp that was on sale for 4 euros (your standard study light with a bendy arm). Looking at it, I thought I could salvage the useful bits of it, and it had the bonus of a switch built into the base.

Once I got it home I completely disassembled it (I didn't take a photo of it before I took it apart, but there is one of the box!) I had to cut the wires from the socket, because I couldn't undo them, then I could remove the reflector, the corrugated plastic tube on the arm, and the nuts fixing the arm to the base. I used a hack-saw to remove the upper gooseneck half of the arm, because it wouldn't help support the bamboo pole, then re-attached the arm to the base and ran the wires back up inside.

I then cut the plastic tube in half: one half I slit open and glued it around the metal arm to make it a bit thicker, the other I slid inside the bottom end of the bamboo pole (I was quite lucky that the diameters of the lamp bits and of my bamboo were fairly close!) I also re-used the plastic surround that was originally at the top of the gooseneck arm under the reflector, gluing it upside-down to the base to sit the bottom of the bamboo on. In the third photo you can see the base with the arm reattached, and the plastic tube glued around it, in the fourth you can see the gooseneck bit of the arm that I sawed off, and the reflector. My original plan was to build the reflector into the base for more weight, but this didn't work out (especially once I'd mangled it with a scrappy attempt to cut a hole through the metal).

Of course, the little 12-cm diameter base doesn't stand a chance of supporting a 1.3m pole, so I cut a length of bamboo, split it lengthwise and screwed these feet onto the base (it contains a thick rubber "puck", which was easy to screw into), to make the base more stable. Pre-drill holes through the bamboo for the screws or else it will split - they can be slightly narrower than the screws so there is some bamboo left to bite into, though. Drill from the top (the outside), because the fibres will tear when the drill punches through, and it's neater if this is on the bottom - they can peel along quite a way.

Then it was simply a case of soldering on an extra length of cable to run up inside the bamboo (heat-shrink tubing to cover the joins), then pushing the cable through the bamboo and fitting the pole onto the arm on the base (the plastic tubing inside the pole fit snugly around the plastic tubing I had glued around the metal arm, holding them quite firmly together).

The lamp socket from the desk lamp already had the angle bracket attached to it, so I just had to drill two small holes in the top of the bamboo pole and screw the bracket on. A scrap of bamboo quickly cut to size and slid into the top of the pole protects the cable from the ends of the screws on the inside. Wire the socket to the cable - I soldered the wires and used heat-shrink tubing, for neatness, and then used hot glue to keep the wires running together down the back of the pole, so they stay hidden - screw in a CFL bulb and the electrical bit of the project is finished: if you like your lights industrial you can leave it at that ;) I thought I'd add a shade to mine...

Step 2: Shade

If you happened to see my earlier instructable about my shoji-style table lamp, this floor lamp is the one I originally built the shade for: when the shade turned out to be too big I converted it into the table lamp.

I had a few chopsticks left over from building that lamp shade, as well as some pieces of the tracing paper, so decided to use the same technique for this new lampshade. Have a look at step 1 of that for the details, but basically it's just a question of gluing the bamboo chopsticks directly along the edges of the tracing paper using wood glue: you can see the layout I used in the photo (I only used this design because those were the off-cuts I had left over, though!) A couple more strips of bamboo formed the top and bottom of the frame.

I had spent quite a while thinking how to attach the shade to the pole - in the end I went with something very simple: a chopstick wedged into the top of the pole, held in place with the scrap of bamboo I had pushed in to protect the cable, with a small bent nail at the other end as a hook (I drilled a hole for this in order to not split the chopstick). Then I hot-glued a twisted loop of thin wire to the back of the shade and hung it on the hook. A little adjustment and the shade hangs (fairly centrally) in front of the bulb.

Step 3: Lastly

The only parts I actually spent anything on for this were the original desk light (4 euros because it was reduced) and 1.5m of 2-strand cable (about 1 euro). The cost of everything else is negligible. I spent a little more on the CFL bulb for this lamp: 6.60 euros for a good bright 150W-equivalent (actually draws 27W), bright enough to light the whole room by itself, which means I can now avoid using my actual-200W(!) incandescent wall-light. It's a strip-filament bulb on a dimmer switch, so I couldn't easily replace it with a CFL, and this was really the motivation for the whole project. Now I've finished both lights I can use the table lamp (well, speaker lamp) when I would have used the dimmer switch, the floor lamp when I want it brighter, and of course both if I want it really well-lit.

The base doesn't make the lamp quite as stable as I'd have liked, but it's stable enough when it's in place, it just doesn't like getting pushed around. It's certainly not bad enough to warrant adding extra props/weights to the base to try to correct it, or extending the feet (I think it kind of resembles a crane, which is more appropriate than a kangaroo...)

Again, all comments are most welcome!